Mongolia's Renewables Belittle World's Nuclear Supply

Untapped mineral riches are fueling Mongolia’s ambition to compete with Australia and Brazil in Asia . The nation’s resource-based economy grew 21 percent last quarter alone.

This largesse obscures a potential aboveground treasure also awaiting investors.

The world’s most sparsely populated nation has the potential to generate 2.6 million megawatts of wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower, based on data collected by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Mongolian National Renewable Energy Center.

That’s a fantastic figure. It’s seven times the capacity of all the world’s operable nuclear reactors combined, according to world nuclear association data. In contrast, Mongolia’s current power capacity is less than that of one large coal plant, just 878 megawatts.

That’s what Newcom Group’s acting Chief Executive Office Byambasaikhan Bayanjargal recently told investors in Hong Kong . Of that, close to 40 percent of the potential is in wind, and Bayanjargal is eager to harness it.
The problem in Mongolia is that with abundant coal resources, it may choose to turn to the quick and dirty solution, following in the footsteps of the U.S. and China, among others.

Newcom, a cross-industry investment group that owns part of Mongolia’s biggest mobile phone network, is investing in a renewable future. The group has six wind-power plant projects that are due to bring 1,000 megawatts online in the country by 2020. In the U.S., that would be enough to power about 800,000 homes. In Mongolia’s economy, it would stretch much further.

Winds blow on average at least 25 feet a second in parts of the Gobi desert, which also ranks third globally in terms of solar generation potential. Newcom and its partners expect to commission a 50-megawatt wind park next year. This plant will be Mongolia’s first independent power producer and the first private investment in the industry.

The project will annually save the burning of 160,500 metric tons of coal and thus 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and — most importantly for a desert country — preserve about 370 million gallons of clean water.
Some of those wind-blown electrons may be transmitted the same place as Mongolia’s coal, iron and other minerals, south, to China . That would be one way for Mongolia to diversify its resource-based economy while retaining ties with its biggest trading partner.

Source: Bloomberg


Copied from my blog:

Bloomberg just published an article by Yuriy Humber about Newcom’s acting Chief Executive Officer Byambasaikhan Bayanjargal talking to investors in Hong Kong on the topic of renewable energy projects in Mongolia.

According to the article, he said that Mongolia has the potential to generate “2.6 million megawatts” of electricity from all renewable sources. Forty percent of that would be wind.

That of course doesn’t make sense. There probably was an error in the Bloomberg reporting somewhere. Generated electricity is measured in TWh per year, not megawatts. And generating capacity of 2.600 Terawatts would be somewhat overkill. I recall that Boldbaatar Tserenpuntsag, chairman of the Newcom group, stated in a speech in September last year that Mongolia has a potential in the order of thousands of TWh from renewable. The figure reported by Bloomberg would be about in the same order.

The Newcom website has this to say about Mr. Byambasaikhan:

Mr. Bayanjargal Byambasaikhan is the acting chief executive of Newcom Group. He’s a clean energy champion and leads Clean Energy, Mongolia’s first wind energy company. Prior joining Newcom as a managing director in 2010, he financed and managed infrastructure investments for public and private sector clients. He worked closely with governments, sponsors and project companies in executing complex projects in difficult environments (political instability, poor governance, limited professional capacity, security risks, etc.).

Mr. Byambasaikhan was an energy finance specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2004-2010. He managed several multidisciplinary project teams and designed, structured investment transactions in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. He is accomplished in raising finance through multilateral (World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank) and bilateral (France, Japan, US) financing agencies and carbon markets. In 2009, he closed the world’s largest ($1.2bln) public sector investment facility for energy efficiency. In 2010, he financed Central Asia’s first 900 MW CCGT power plant for $1.3bln.

Sounds very interesting. I wonder if he has ever heard about Desertec yet.

Thanks to this Tweet by Mongoliana for the link.

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